Stung by allegations of being “unethical and unprofessional” by India’s leading singles player, the executives of the AITA have presented a long statement to the Association’s Executive Committee.
Hironmoy Chatterjee, Col. Amarbir Singh, Col. Ranbir Singh Chauhan and Wg. Cdr. P.F. Montes sought to establish their professionalism before the Committee that met on Sunday.
In the wake of the Davis Cup debacle against Korea over the weekend and in the context of a “rebellion” against the AITA by a set of players led by Somdev Devvarman, the executives drew a parallel between the Association and the International Tennis Federation.
The ITF develops junior-level tennis the world over, the statement said, but the players hardly have a kind word for the Federation once they turn pro and begin playing the circuit.
“Similarly, the players do not have a kind word for AITA,” the statement proclaimed.
It was also mentioned that raising sponsorship for tennis was more difficult compared to cricket, hockey or football.
The executives said it was a herculean task to run the ITF Futures and women’s tournaments, and the international junior events, as sponsors were not easy to find.
On the other hand, ATP events, like the Chennai Open, were being enthusiastically supported by the State Governments.
“In India, if a sponsor wants to conduct an ATP event, he will have to first find an owner of a week(ly slot on the ATP calendar) who wants to conduct the event in India. The owner will look for guaranteed returns, which could be a million dollar upwards,” it was stated.
Addressing the specific issue at hand, it was argued that the players compete on the circuit the whole year, all through their careers, and are asked to do national duty for only two or three weeks a year for Davis Cup, and once in four years for the Asian Games and the Olympics.
Stating that the payments to the players for Davis Cup duty was based on a clear formula — which was being re-worked — the executives further argued that the players “should not hold the National Federation responsible” for their struggles on the professional circuit.
Expressing gratitude to the government for paying some of the leading players $3,000 to $6,000 per month towards preparations for Commonwealth and Asian Games apart from the Olympics, the statement underlined the responsibility of the players to represent the country.